Our research approach aims to qualify research design, implementation, outputs, outcomes, and impacts. We use a theory-based outcome evaluation approach (Figure 1) to assess research contributions to change processes. The approach:
(1) conceptualizes research within a complex system, making explicit reference to other actors, context, and external processes;
(2) uses an actor-centric theory of change (ToC) as the main analytical framework; and
(3) empirically tests a set of hypotheses about the research process/outputs and outcomes.
Figure 1. Graphical abstract of the Outcome Evaluation Approach (Belcher, Davel & Claus, 2020)
In parallel, we use a Transdisciplinary Research Quality Assessment Framework (QAF) to characterize the design and implementation of the research.
We continually review and adapt our approaches to suit the purpose of our projects and as we learn lessons from our research processes.